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    Sale 12244

    The Italian Sale

    6 October 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 116

    Gilberto Zorio (B. 1944)

    Untitled

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Gilberto Zorio (B. 1944)
    Untitled


    asbestos pipe, plaster, cobalt chloride, in two parts
    diameter: 23 5/8in. (60cm.)
    height: 66 7/8in. (170cm.)
    Executed in 1967


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    ‘The Untitled works of 1967, involving a fibre-cement pipe … remind me of the energy contained in the viscera of the earth. They appear as industrial volcanoes. Or, if I compare the column to the human being, I can see it walking on a membrane that pulsates with a life infinitely more real than that of its rigid body’ (G. Celant, ‘A Passage in the Crucible of Artistic Irradiation,’ 1987, in Gilberto Zorio, exh. cat. IVAM, Centre del Carme, Valencia 1991, p. 35)

    ‘This inner vision of the body comes to me also from viewing it in chemical terms. Each human is a container of minerals and water; his veins, lungs and organs are an extraordinary chemistry lab made of tubes and alembics’
    GILBERTO ZORIO


    Executed in the same year as the artist’s debut solo exhibition at Galeria Enzo Sperone, Turin, Untitled (1967) is a masterful example of Gilberto Zorio’s alchemical practice. The work consists of a cement-fibre pipe emerging from a magmatic mountain of plaster, which is tinted in bluish and rosy tones with the reactive compound cobalt chloride. The plaster’s billowing form beneath the columnar pipe recalls the solidified flow of lava from a volcano, or the blast from the launch of a rocket. Cobalt chloride changes from blue to pink in the presence of moisture: the sculpture therefore turns time, the rhythms of nature and even human presence – registered by the vapour of breath – into something tangible through chemical process. This central idea of form in flux is reflected in the sculpture’s erupting composition, which seems to birth new matter into being. Rejecting illusionism entirely, Zorio’s works operate through ‘living’ physical phenomena, bringing alchemy together with an animistic, almost occult sense of existence. As Germano Celant has written, ‘They can be considered sculptures that mark Time. This undertaking is shared by many artists, like Merz and Anselmo, Beuys and Nauman. It aspires to conjugate the impossible: mutation and tension, element and life’ (G. Celant, ‘A Passage in the Crucible of Artistic Irradiation,’ 1987, in Gilberto Zorio, exh. cat. IVAM, Centre del Carme, Valencia 1991, p. 33).

    Zorio’s revolutionary use of materials was common to the Arte Povera movement of which he was a key member: alongside Merz, Boetti, Pistoletto, Calzolari and others he took part in Harald Szeemann’s seminal 1969 exhibition When Attitudes Become Form at the Kunsthalle Bern, which showed these Italian avant-gardists alongside a wider group of artists including Beuys, Nauman, Richard Long, Richard Serra and Carl Andre. Even amongst these innovators, Zorio’s objects assert a uniquely active relationship with their own materials and with their surrounding environment. With cobalt chloride, which he first used in his semi-cylindrical work Pink-Blue-Pink (1967), Zorio has said that ‘one is drawn into an extreme slowness due to the hypersensitivity of a chemical that is not paint. I was trying to give painting and sculpture another course, one that was not natural, even though it might appear to be so’ (G. Zorio, quoted in G. Celant, ‘A Passage in the Crucible of Artistic Irradiation,’ 1987, in Gilberto Zorio, exh. cat. IVAM, Centre del Carme, Valencia 1991, pp. 33-34). The chemical’s chameleonic quality transmutes the igneous form of Untitled into a live, bubbling cauldron.

    Discussing the group to which the present work belongs, Celant has further observed that ‘The Untitled works of 1967, involving a fibre-cement pipe … remind me of the energy contained in the viscera of the earth. They appear as industrial volcanoes. Or, if I compare the column to the human being, I can see it walking on a membrane that pulsates with a life infinitely more real than that of its rigid body’ (G. Celant, ‘A Passage in the Crucible of Artistic Irradiation,’ 1987, in Gilberto Zorio, exh. cat. IVAM, Centre del Carme, Valencia 1991, p. 35). Indeed, this interface between the motions of the earth and the human body is vital to Zorio’s practice. His use of tubes and pipes began at his father’s building site, where he conceived of the urban settlement as a corporeal entity: ‘for me the tube is a vein or wire that carries energy and electricity. It carries the flow. The city, with its arteries, recalls the human body, it is a great macroscopic reconstruction of our lymphatic system. I was attracted by the sight of growth and change, excavations, building sites in action, traffic’ (G. Zorio, quoted in G. Celant, ‘A Passage in the Crucible of Artistic Irradiation,’ 1987, in Gilberto Zorio, exh. cat. IVAM, Centre del Carme, Valencia 1991, p. 35). Untitled manifests this notion of flow and energy in an enthralling, totemic apparition, throbbing with an elemental pulse of life. In all its magic and mystery, this vital and dynamic structure puts us back in touch with the realities of our own physical being in the world.

    Special Notice

    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.


    Provenance

    Deposito d'Arte Presente, Turin.
    Marcello and Stefania Levi Collection, Turin.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE LEVI COLLECTION, TURIN


    Exhibited

    Turin, Deposito d’Arte Presente, Mostra Personale, 1967.
    Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou, Qu’est-ce que la sculpture moderne?, 1986.
    Turin, Castello di Rivoli, Un’avventura internazionale, 1994 (illustrated, p. 339).
    Turin, Castello di Rivoli, Collezionismo a Torino, 1996 (illustrated, pp. 56-58).
    Bologna, MAMbo, Gilberto Zorio, 2009-2010 (illustrated, p. 98). This exhibition later travelled to Santiago de Compostela, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea.